ice dams

To control SPAM, you must now be a registered user to post to this Message Board.


This is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's Message Board. Wright enthusiasts can post questions and comments, and other people visiting the site can respond.

You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, *-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed). The IP address of all posts is recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions. You agree that the webmaster, administrator and moderators of this forum have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time they see fit.
Post Reply

ice dams

Post by farmerjean »

Perhaps this has been addressed earlier, but, as a new FLW house owner, I discovered interior leaking near one window after a heavy snow. I was told that these were ice dams & could not be fixed. Any ideas? Thank you! farmerjean

Spring Green

I'm not an architect, but...

Post by Spring Green »

I am a homeowner, and we've got our own little problems, namely, major icicles. A friend has suggested that we look into getting better insulation and roof venting. The insulation for obvious reasons, the roof venting to bring cool air up through the roof and out, not allowing the roof to heat up, and melt the snow.

IMH (and terribly neophyte)O, I think you might need to talk to a person who has worked on restoring buildings on how to solve a problem like that in your Wright building, or get in insulation/roof venting, without altering the roof/lines of the building.

We had very bad ice dams a few years ago in this area, and, as a temporary fixative, friends went out an bought ice rakes to keep the ice from forming on the roofs. Ice damming, as I recall, was happening because snow was melting, then freezing before it got to the end of the roof, causing ice build-up.

I hope this helps.


Post by Guest »

That's also my understanding of ice dams. You can also get some special heat systems for the portion of the roof eaves not over the heated space that will melt the ice and keep the dams from forming.


Ice Dams

Post by gdf »

We also have a FLW - we have found that if you put a heat coil where the ice builds up, it won't allow the ice to form. It helps that we have an outside outlet close to the source of the problem. This is our 3rd winter doing this and have met with great success.

Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 6:32 pm
Location: Saint John, New Brunswick

Other items for consideration...

Post by flwright »

To find ice dams in older homes is not uncommon. Often, attic ventilation is insufficient to meet proper requirements and is frequently the culprit of ice daming. Common solutions to improve air circulation include the addition of gable vents, soffit vents, polystyrene ventilation baffles, mechanical ventilation or simply clearing any blockages to air flow like sagging insulation.

The unfortunate part (or fortunate, depending on your perspective) is that you own, what I am assuming is, an original FLW and nothing is typical or common in this case. In addition, I probably wouldn't recommend cutting holes and installing potentially disgraceful ventilation systems in a FLW. In this case, as others have mentioned, low-voltage heating coils may alleviate the ice damming issue, but be aware you are not actually addressing the likely source of the problem -- improper ventilation. It is possible that this could lead to additional problems for your residence.

In addition, where you have mentioned you experienced leaks inside the residence, you may want to investigate if any damage has occured to the wall system. Problems could occur with saturation of the insulation and wall surfaces which could cause paint to bubble and drywall to expand, rotting of the wall framing in extreme cases and can create a breeding ground for mold (one of the "hottest up-and-coming" lawsuits in the building industry these days!) Leaks from ice damming may also suggest that there is damage to the very membranes that are intended to halt the infiltration of water. A review of your roof shingles, waterproofing membranes, if applicable, and the roofing substrates is recommended to find all sources of damage. Look also in your attic to see the extent of water infiltration -- there could potentially be more leaks that you are not aware of.

If you suspect that your ice damming problems are minor in nature, a consultation with nearly any reputable contractor or handyman should be sufficient. If you suspect this is a larger problem, or if you wish to have somebody more familiar in the "ways of Wright" to address this, you may be better to speak with an architect. With all the published information on many of Wright's buildings, an architect could likely find the original detailing of your particular residence and study them to better determine the exact cause of your problems and any areas for correction.

Some of the items I have mentioned are serious in nature, but I do not intend to cause panic for in most cases ice daming is a small issue. Many of these problems and solutions I have suggested may not apply. If the leaks and ice daming have been around for a long time (and potentially so since your residence is likely pre-1959), some of the problems identified may, in fact, apply. I only hope to educate and point you in the right direction.


ice dams

Post by farmerjean »

Thank you all for your help. This has been confirmed by other FLW owners. We will investigate.

Post Reply